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From Go! Comi:
Like most teenagers, Mashiro Ichijo has a secret. But Mashiro's secret is that he’s neither fully male nor female! So far, Mashiro's been able to live his life as a boy, but all this changes when he's informed of a new class he must take in order to graduate from his elite prep school. To pass, he must find the “Key”…and the only way to find it is to enter into a nightmare world where his body and soul are put at the mercy of the worst kind of enemies: his classmates!
放課後保健室 After School Nightmare L'Infirmerie après les cours (French) The Nurse's Office After School
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Another one of Mizushiro-sensei's works with a beautiful story and characters.
Okay, first off, you have your main protaganist who is half male at the top and half female at the bottom. When I first picked this up and saw the summary on the back, I was all like, WTF?! That was something VERY different from manga I usually read.
There is also a lot of added genre's to the story than just shoujo. It leaves a whole lot of room for fandom and imagination. You have, horror, slight comedy, shounen-ai, shoujo-ai, and mystery. It's just...Wow. I read the first volume and was totally pulled in. You have no idea how much I wanted for the next volume to be realeased. Currently, I have the latest volume, which I plan to continue with each new release in the bookstores.
Protaganist/Mashiro: He/She is very reluctant when it comes to descisions. Mashiro has a huge complex of whether or not he's really female or male. The complex only worsens when Sou and Kureha come in the picture, fighting for his affections.
Sou: Calm, quiet, cool and hot guy. He's a ladies man and knows it, but doesn't exactly flaunt it. For some reason, he's in love with Mashiro and doesn't seem to think of him as a guy, but a girl. The guy's a whole mystery to me. All I know so far is that he has a sister-complex and wants Mashiro.
Kureha: She's petit and cute, like any other normal japanese girl. THe only thing is...she hates men. This is due to a family and personal incident. When she meets Mashiro, she finds out his secret and starts to get an attacthment to him, which then changes into a crush. She doesn't like Sou because she know when Mashiro is around him, he acts...different.
In short, the art is clean and beautiful (sensei has definately improved), story line is interesting and keeps you wanting more, and the characters are gorgeous, with a little of their own personality rather than the cliche' attributes of characters in other shoujo mangas. There's plenty of room to sympathize with them as well.
This manga is definately a must buy. I'm POSITIVE that i'm not wasting any of my money on it
One step forward, another step back
Summary: I do not recommend this manga if you are looking for positive/accurate depictions of LGBTIQ characters, for the reasons stated below.
I will start by stating I did enjoy this manga, for many of the reasons stated in previous comments which I will not repeat.
The main purpose behind my comment is more to point out some of the problems I found with the concept of Mashiro as an Intersex character. I do realize that her* being half-male and half-female was done for symbolic purposes but the way it was done was a complete cop out for me personally.
I want to write this not so much to deter anyone who is interested a manga with an Intersex character in it but rather to point out this is not an accurate depiction. Had it been, Mashiro would have been female from the very start simply because they stated her "bottom half" is female. The manga however has her first depicted and believing she is male. There is next to no reveal as to how she managed to live her life as male up until that point or why she identified as male from the start.
However there is a silver lining to this, Mashiro's confusion and frustration over her gender identity is rather insightful for people who identify as trans* and how she fights to prove her identity as male. That is what I find to be the beauty of this manga, all the characters to a certain extent will have something identifiable with one character or another.
Going back to the issue of gender identity, one of the things I found most detestable was the whole vagina = female equation (I do acknowledge there will be people questioning this and further people who will disagree with why I state this in the first place). Taking a step back, once more the manga does not arrive to a conclusion as to why Mashiro presents as male despite having female genitalia in the beginning of the story. Realistically gender is assigned based on genitalia, but of course there would be no story otherwise had the mangaka chosen to acknowledge this. However despite not acknowledging this initially, it is brought up time and time again when it is revealed that Mashiro has "lady bits." Case in point, she must be a girl and this idea is constantly forced upon her. This ultimately leads to the conflict over her gender identity. Further more, her decision to be female is rather interesting. The manga makes an excellent point that being either male or female doesn't mean life will be easier, Mashiro states she believed that her life would be easier if she was a guy as opposed to a girl, and concluded she should be a girl but also acknowledges that both genders have their own struggles. But this further reinforces the idea that vagina = female and to like Sou she must be female.
Yet how the manga handles this issue becomes frustrating, multiple times the reader is delivered a big slap of "heteronormativity." This is done especially in regards to Mashiro's relationships to Sou and Kureha, she becomes the opposite sex for each character when her role becomes that of "love interest". What I enjoyed about the relationship between Mashiro and Kureha was her acceptance of Mashiro's identity as male despite the fact she has female genitalia. While the relationship with Sou was again that slap of heteronormativity, as it is depicted she can't have a relationship with Sou as a guy. There is absolutely no room for a homosexual relationship, especially when it came to having Mashiro accept a female identity. The relationship with Kureha only worked when Mashiro considered herself male, once she starts to accept herself as female, does she accept her feelings for Sou. It goes back to the same question in the manga, did she like Kureha for the sake of maintaining a male identity? But the manga does not open the possibility up for Mashiro having a relationship with Sou as a male or having a relationship with Kureha has a female.
To wrap up, this manga without intending to does depict gender dysphoria well, this is a step forward. However it further reinforces the idea of sex and gender being equal and heterosexuality as being ideal. It should be kept in mind that the set up is done for the sake of symbolism and in a shoujo manga there will be expectations of heterosexual relationships and BL for those who enjoy it (that was another quip I had, Mashiro looking male on top for the sake of BL but also under the guise that she's a girl.)
Overall I do recommend this manga for it's story-telling, it's art, and how it can be relatable. However if you're looking for a story with accurate representations of LGBTIQ characters, this is not your manga. Like many other gender benders, I find this story is progressive to the extent but also regressive.
... Last updated on February 7th, 2015, 4:02am
i read the whole 10volumes in one sitting...
...until 2:00AM and I have NEVER read 10 volumes in one sitting let alone stay up for manga. Mizushiro Setona is one of my most favorite mangakas because she's just awesome (1999 Shanghai and others were amazing). 10 volumes seemed overwhelming but after the 1st bizarre volume, i became addicted! Mizushiro Sentona is not only a great artist but an amazing storyteller...
if you're looking for a story that is full of suspense, twists, and an INCEPTION like mind slapping, this is the one. the ending is unpredictable and it deals with deep themes. Sure, the characters get annoying sometimes (responding to someone who reviewed here), but that's what makes them more real -- wouldn't YOU get confused and frustrated that you're half male & female? sheesh XD
but this met (and exceeded somewhat) my expectations of Mizushiro Sentona's work. all of her works are really deep (like this one) but keep in mind, I'm 19 now and when I read first read a manga of hers at 13 years old, I found it really boring and confusing so...yea. have an open, mature mind when reading her works because you WON'T regret it!
Begins with a very strong "dark fantasy" and "psychological thriller" feeling, which is quite fascinating. There's a lot of mysterious imagery that isn't trying too hard to confuse. This lasts for about three volumes, and it is excellent.
Then it devolves into a love triangle and a pretty hackeneyed one, to boot. The dark fantasy angle becomes an occasional punctucation rather than the central mechanic. A little later after that, it's turned into a downright high-school soap opera. Better executed than most, perhaps, but just as twisty and aimless, and not without its share of cliche...including one the author really should be ashamed of. Finally, it just becomes a sucession of cheap nonsense. I couldn't even recognize it anymore.
Like too many seralizations, it began with an intriuging idea that the author just couln't maintain for long enough.
... Last updated on May 12th, 2010, 1:55pm
One of her better works...
Out of the titles by MIZUSHIRO Setona that I've read before, together with X-Day, this qualifies as one of her better works.
The psychological drama is extremely intriguing although the pacing does need some working on.
Very Original But...
I found this one very original and interesting up until the point where the whole point of the class and what graduating really means is finally revealed. The ending was a complete let down though....
Spoiler (highlight to view)
When you consider that Mashiro was actually two souls sharing one body, he/she never really comes to terms with him/herself. Instead the female version kills the male before graduating thus only she is actually born. When you get down to it, the character never really grew in the sense of being able to accept both sides, which is probably the whole point of the nightmare class in the first place. Oh well.
The Best Manga Ever!
Never in my life have I read such a brilliant manga... and believe me, I have read A LOT (but Shoujo mostly). This manga starts off a little weird. One the first few pages I was a little disturbed admittedly and wondering what the heck was going on, especially since the summary really put me off. But, thank gosh I kept on reading!
The ending of the first chapter was really something. I fell in love with it because I had never read something with a mixture of morbid as well as romantic cliché scenes which somewhat gave off a gothic feel (though it's not really a Gothic manga). There was also very few smut scenes but I feel it was well-balanced along with the plot. And the art is just amazing!
The plot is quite tense but really, you just can't put the manga down once you get into it! It's just truely amazing. I admit the romance is extremely cliché but it fits with a complicated plot like this.
But maybe they should have focused on perceptions such as Mashiro possibility of being 'homosexual'... But then again, I guess there is no genre stating Shounen Ai or Shoujo Ai and it might put Yaoi/ Yuri haters off.
The characters are very well portrayed. You hated and loved them all, which is perhaps why I love this manga. It showed how everyone had a flaw like in reality. It was also interesting how everyone in this manga seemed to use others. It could get depressing/ annoying at times but just face the facts - that's what we all do!
The main character, Mashiro pissed me off most of the time. Nevertheless, I couldn't help liking him/ her at the same time. It was as if he/ her was portraying how us human make our decision whether it is wise or not.
Kureha is just awesome. Although she was whiny near the beginning/ middle, she really tried to fight away her fears and became strong. I seriously admire her for that. And in this case, it was as if the mangaka was now portraying our 'strong/ independant' side we have.
As for Sou, we all love him! He just made this manga so amazing... His character portrays our 'weak' side of humans or how we need to 'rely on others'.
I disagree with mogiks about the minor characters just 'dissapearing'. They were pretty vital as they gave away some of the clues or attempt people to not predict what would happen.
And as for the dream-like world, I thought it was even more interesting. I mean it represented the character itself and it made me think what would I be.
I also came up with a theory, for example:
Spoiler (highlight to view)
Some people have said that once the people 'graduate', they are reborn. However, I disagree with this.
In my opinion, the people attending the school are like sperms. As for the black hole, it's like a womb or the ovary. And do you remember a minor character dissapearing because she hadn't attended class two weeks in a row? This is as if her sperm died out due to lack of speed or something.
As for the nurse looking like Mashiro's mother. I was thinking that maybe the nurse looks different to everyone, e.g. Sou's version of his nurse would look like his future mother. I could be wrong on this theory as there is no proof.
Any, I also love this manga because you can come up with different theories... Also, after reading this manga my whole idea of life suddenly changed.
I hated all the characters. Not to mention Ichijo's thinking." If I love a girl I am a guy." WTF!!? A girl can be in love with another girl! "I am a guy, so it is impossible in love with him" Again guys can be in love with other guys. Plus his reaction to when he thinks hes in love, hes like all "My hearts going doki-doki~! Oh No! Im acting like a girl." It depends on the person to what their reaction to the one they love is, not the gender....Im sure everyone feels it when theyre thinking about their beloved. I feel like this whole manga is based on gender stereotypes and discrimination. I admit that this story seemed interesting which was what got me started but now its just repetitive, stupid and hateful. Its unique but that doesnt cover it for me.
My mind is pretty much blown. I can't find the right words to describe how this manga made me feel. But, what I will say is that it was one of the most impressive, complex and crazy stories I have ever read. It hooked me completely - I stayed up till 4 am to read this sucker. And I don't regret it at all because I know I'll remember it for a while. It's just one of those stories that leave an impression on you. It could be good or bad, but for those who like darker and deeper themed stories, packed with conflicted feelings and trippy psychological issues (that become reflected visually and directly) then you'll probably enjoy it like I did. It was definitely unique in terms of plot and characters that go with it. What I admired and enjoyed most about the story when I look back is the progression and development of the main character. In the beginning he/she is conflicted with her identity but by the end she knows who she wants to be and the story becomes easier to read (it feels a little happier), though you may take the ending as bittersweet. And it's an added plus for me that it focused on overcoming mental weaknesses and searching for who you're most comfortable being.
However, like previously mentioned, be forewarned. It's loaded with crazy psychological and personal problems that are vaguely foreshadowed (so it catches you off guard). Look out for WTF realizations. But despite that, I think that was what gave this amazing story character and its bizarre qualities.
Give it a shot if you're fine with all that in mind. But dont let it intimidate you if you're looking for something different.
... Last updated on July 8th, 2012, 9:40pm
Love this manga, well played out!!
I have got to say between this manga and Arisa are the best shoujo manga I have ever read!. First of all, all the characters had real personalities none of them had cardboard cut out feelings. The story played out so smooth and as you read more the missing puzzle pieces came into play. Also, every character had some significance, most shoujo manga I had read, had some characters that frequently came and go. I love how realistic this manga was, and how they capture that fact that some people might look perfect on the outside but the inside is "ugly".
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
However, it feels like some characters learn nothing when they graduated. I think the mangaka was trying to explain the consequences of quickly graduating without embracing and conquering your true side like the heroine did hence the reason why the paper giraffe fell into a black abyss. Also, I had to reread these chapters over again just to understand some things, like what was sou real form in the dream world?, was he his sister AI in the dream world?, and how did the nurse office caught on fire?? and the most important of all, what happen to the students after the fire and will those things like abandonment and rape happen to them again in the real world? Aside from that, there were no speed bumps until the end that really shocked me because I wanted them all to graduate. I also love that fact that at the ending chapters they show ichijo mom in the real world getting ready for labor while ichijo girl and boy soul fight for life in the dream world. I always wanted him to be a girl and I really hope ichijo and sou fall in love in the real world.
I really love this manga, I give it a 10 out of 10